Prepping for the Toronto Raptors’ Summer League team

9 mins read

This is much more exciting than Kevin Durant.

Summer League is just around the corner — basketball never sleeps, even beyond the rumour mill. There’s real hoop to be played! The Raptors will play the Philadelphia 76ers on July 9, the Chicago Bulls on July 12, the Utah Jazz on July 13, and the Miami Heat on July 15.

Last year, the Raptors’ Summer League roster included Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, Justin Champagnie, David Johnson, Yuta Watanabe, Malachi Flynn, and Dalano Banton. There’s real NBA guys on this thing. Not everyone makes it out of the unheralded guys, but some of them will. If I had to guess, Champagnie, Johnson, and Banton will return. Barring injury, it’s very likely that Ron Harper jr. and Christian Koloko will play as well. It’s likely that some of the other guys at least play with the 905 in 2022-23.

There’ve been a number of exciting signings in recent days, as well.

Let’s dig into who everyone is (really just the newcomers, we all know Champagnie, Johnson, and Banton).

Ron Harper jr.

Harper was a four-year college guard with plenty of size and strength, and he brought his 3-point shooting numbers up to 40 percent by his senior year. He’s a bruising scorer, reliant on strength and footwork far more than speed or vertical. His strength was scoring in college, averaging 15.8 points per game in his fourth year. He didn’t offer a huge amount of rebounding, assists, or stocks beyond the points. But as a scorer he should project well with his craft and touch. He might struggle to finish around the rim in the NBA, and he will have to prove his defense.

Christian Koloko

He should be a solid rim protector right out of the gate. He’s a real 7-footer in a league where that’s actually pretty rare, and he has extremely solid 9-foot-5 standing reach. He averaged 2.8 blocks a game in his junior year of college, and that translates pretty fast. Of course, the speed and positioning and all that will take a lot of time, and Koloko probably won’t be ready to backstop an NBA defense for a while. But he’ll sure be able to at Summer League!

He’s also maybe way more than just defense. He has a good stroke and shot well from the free throw line, and the Raptors seem to be hopeful that he’ll be a 3-point shooter. Which means he’ll be tossing them up in Summer League. He seems to have some passing chops. The Raptors will probably let him try some wild stuff this summer before letting him get some seasoning with the 905 in the upcoming season.

Ryan Hawkins

Hawkins spent only a year playing small forward for Creighton. He was a 3-point specialist, taking more than half his shots there, and connecting on 35.8 percent. He’s a better shooter than that percentage would indicate — he took some tough, deep shots, man. As an 80-percent free throw shooter, he ought to be a solid distance shooter in the NBA, too. The guy’s a real gunner. He’s got good size at 6-foot-7 and a quick release, so he ought to be able to get some looks off at the NBA level. Everything else is a question mark to be proved.

Abu Kigab

Kigab is a Sudanese-Canadian wing, and he’s a strong athlete and solid off-the-ball player. He does a lot of things fairly well, including defense, passing, rebounding, and more. But he never put the jumper together beyond 30 percent from deep, and his stroke looks like it needs work, aesthetically. He’ll be at his best as a cutter and play connector, but it’s hard to be an optimized off-ball player without adding the jumper. He’ll need to speed up his decision making too, but he’s a creative player, and that’s valuable.

Jaylen Sims

A shooting guard? I didn’t know those still existed. He’s got great size for a non-point guard guard at 6-foot-6, and he’s a nifty scorer. He’s quick and crafty as a finisher, and he shot between 35 and 38 percent from deep in all four years at college. He’s a raw player, and for his tools and craft, he never became efficient anywhere on the court past the arc. He loves to get into the midrange out of the pick and roll and dance a little bit. His best skill though is reaching the free throw line, and he finished 24th in the nation among guards in free throw attempts per game. If that translates, he might be able to find a spot at the NBA level. But he needs to become more efficient everywhere else.

Alex Barcello

A SHOOTER shooter at 6-foor-2. Dude hit between 48 and 42 percent from deep in all three years at BYU. He’s got a super confident, bouncy stroke. He can release from a couple different angles and gets it off quickly, so the hope has to be that his 3-point frequency can transition to the higher level. He’s got a lot to improve on. He’s not an incredible athlete, and even though he has a fancy dribbling package to get into his jumper, it doesn’t translate as well inside the arc. If he can play defense, there will always be room for a shooter of his caliber in the NBA. But the defense is absolutely not a given.

Trey Porter

The 6-foot-11 big last played in university in 2018-19, but he’s been dominating in Europe for a time. He was the MVP of the National Basketball in Bulgaria last year for BC Rilski Sportist where he averaged just shy of 15 points and 10 rebounds a game while shooting 75 percent from the field. He’s a great athlete and heady cutter. He doesn’t have a lot of range, but he’s solid at making himself available at the rim. He’s a good lob threat. It’s hard to know if his athleticism — he was dominant in Bulgaria — will transition to the highest level, but he’s an athletic and heady big, and as long as the finishing stays relevant, he should play well this summer.

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